The US Missile Defense Agency (mda) has awarded a manufacturing contract to Raytheon for the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IB programme as part of the MDA’s Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System.

The $312m contract provides for the complete developmental phase of the SM-3 Block IB programme, and delivers the rounds to MDA.

The next-generation SM-3 Block IB incorporates an advanced two-colour infrared seeker, an advanced signal processor and a new throttleable divert and attitude control system.

Raytheon’s Air and Missile Defense Systems vice-president Frank Wyatt said the SM-3 Block IB will provide increased engagement capability to the warfighter against a broad range of ballistic missile threats.

“The first flight test rounds are expected to be delivered to MDA this summer,” he added.

The missile will be deployed in both sea-based and land-based modes as part of phase two of the current administration’s Phased Adaptive Approach for missile defence.

The missiles are deployed with both US and Japanese navies to defend against short- to intermediate-range ballistic missile threats in the ascent and midcourse phases of flight.